1st class salad
Lately, the possible connections that could be traced between fashion and art became the subject of quite interesting discussions. Whether fashion could be linked to the world of arts or whether art could play a fashion role – these questions remain opened for further explorations. On the other hand, we have to admit that we are dealing with two different things that don’t need to be forced to work together. At least not literally, like we saw in Viktor & Rolf demonstration for their last couture show.
In my opinion, the topic deserves a lighter treatment. That is why I picked James Merry’s work for example. His cute embroideries on vintage sweaters and his very personal way to adorn all those iconic sportswear logos with flowers, moss or mushrooms, seems to be a more adequate formula – smart, sincere, clean, honest… and wearable after all! The concept definitely deserves to be developed further while it could be extended at various levels.
James Merry, a very particular artist who spends his life between New York and Iceland, is already known as the creator of exquisite embroidered masks for Bjork’s stage shows or videos. James Merry is also a former collaborator of Damien Hirst and the author of an illustration book. His recent sportswear logo project (see the pictures) shows that he still has plenty to say, whether it would be in the field of art, fashion or something in between.
The Fashion Design Gala of University of Art and Design Cluj-Napoca, a fashion event that has grown beautiful over the years, reaching its 21st edition in 2015, became a major reference of Romanian fashion design scene. Evolving in a professional context (both in terms of setup, organization and audience involved) the Gala show brings out a flow of creative energy, bursting with ideas and visual information – an almost hallucinatory gear that is uneasy to depict in a few words. Luckily, the pictures speak better than words.
Fortunately, an event of this scale enjoys a well deserved media coverage. Lots of reviews are written about UAD Fashion Gala every year. The same goes with this year’s edition. While I was wondering what else should I add to this chapter, I found appropriate to contribute with a few personal notes, highlighting some (technical) details that caught my attention and probably were not so visible during the parade.
The show itself was impressive – the atmosphere at Sala Polivalenta Cluj-Napoca, the music, the long catwalk, the amazing audience. 26 collections of 35 were carefully selected for the show. Everyone could value the silhouettes outline, the simple and relaxed tailoring details, the shapes and fabrics developed by young graduates, along with accessories and styling. In addition, there was a welcomed difference between the BA and MA collections, in terms of concerns and creative approach, in the complexity of fashion discourse, in the way they developed and solved technical aspects. Graduation collections this year were coordinated by Prof.PhD Elena Basso Stanescu and Lect.PhD.Lucian Broscatean at BA level and by Prof.PhD Elena Basso-Stanescu and Prof.PhD Anca Pia Rusan at MA.
At first glance the collection displayed had a rather homogenous and unified look. At a closer examination the outfits become even more attractive. While most of the silhouettes and minimalist constructions presented on the runway are perfectly synchronized to international trends in the field and have the great advantage of being extremely wearable. some particular fabrics, surface interventions or experimental approaches bring something extra, defining the identity of the Fashion Design Department of UAD. The official photos of the Gala, shot by Emil Costrut, allowed me to magnify some interesting details.
Bianca Negrea’s Fuse – a well mastered collection, casual and distinguished at the same time, was inspired by Romanian traditional elements interpreted in a modern key. Starting from the Bear custom (an ancient New Year ritual, where individuals cover their bodies with straw), Bianca has developed a range of materials using beads and fringes of different thicknesses. Soft and ubercool robes, fringed accessories paired with huge bags have enjoyed great success, Bianca Negrea being one of the multi-awarded graduates of the 2015 Gala.
Aliz Simon’s Nouvelle Ere collection talks about the meaning of femininity and sophistication nowadays. Her series of neoprene coats, with carefully designed volumes and proportions, subtle layering in shades of white and powder pink, make an intelligent dialogue between old and new, symmetrical and asymmetrical, elegant and normcore.
At Linda Szabo (Parallels) the outfits were inspired by New Look. Hence the 40s focus on shoulders and waist, it is worth noting the way those details were reinvented here in contemporary spirit. Keeping the story in neutral tones, Linda dealt mainly with volumetric exercises and surface treatment by subtle means – quilted details obtained by handmade embroidery and dashed lines prints. The shapes of the skirts look very modern and new, while the harnesses and padded bags complement the outfits.
The materials used for Isabela Teodor’s collection La Vita e Bella deserve a special mention. Long leather coats and pants were hand painted through repeated interventions achieving a special patina effect. The combination of these artsy pieces with white blouses bring out a luxurious look.
With White Reflection Sim Arabela managed one of the most popular white collections on the catwalk of the Gala. If simplicity and elegance are desirable but can just as easily slip into banality, Arabela Sim has to be valued for the way she handled the silhouettes and proportions of this collection, adding large embroideries with shiny beads, and a couple of nice clutches.
Asphalt collection by Sorana Barb delivers a series of leather pieces, where the rhythms of black / white, matt / gloss are supported by round tailoring, asymmetrical parts and bold accessories made out of car mats.
The Untitled collection by Diana Ilea uses minimal means – simple lines, a few basic materials, black and white stripes and graphic prints inspired by Tapies, yet manages to get some fresh outfits, highly wearable and up to date. I appreciated the proportions and styling elements that complete the look: Birkenstocks, red socks, plastic bags. I think the strength of this collection is in the way it succeeds to combine the artsy elements with the so called normcore streetstyle.
Ana-Maria Leordean invites us to a Journey to the center of the heart, conveying an energetic message, innocent and visceral at the same time. The playful costumes decorated with funny badges or the huge heart printed on pleated fabric simply cannot go unnoticed.
Diane Chis with her Artificial Creatures, stands out through well-studied patterns, nice combinations of fabrics (wool mixed with Lurex and nude tulle), interesting closure systems. Note the double clutches that complement the clean-cut outfits.
Nadejda Iacubina with her collection titled “Marry me, mother!” conveys a genuine message picked from Romanian folklore. She recalls “the girl fair from Gaina”, an ethno-cultural manifestation that once made possible the meeting and the marriage of youth in Transylvania. The theme provides a great opportunity for the designer to process leather and wooden details, to pleat, stitch or fray raw canvases into remarkable unisex outfits. Following the main features of Romanian traditional costumes, this type of clothes can cope equally well on a fashion catwalk, in an art exhibition or in a modern wardrobe.
Sugar Rush, a signature statement of Diana Dobrescu, literally shone on the catwalk of the Gala. Outfits composed as collages of tinfoil that make you think at sweets packaging from supermarket shelves were paired with toy necklaces and transparent bags containing all sorts of candies, sweets and other surprises.
Ancuta Sarca, fascinated by color and creative effervescence specific to urban subcultures, defines her concept of Eleganza in vibrant details, obtained by unconventional means. The pieces, modeled by real people, and cut from alternative materials such as plastic foil, lacy oilcloth accessorized with vintage jewelry, exude an air of aristocratic and irresistible energy. Inspired by all things related to excess, decadence, luxury, eclecticism, this collection stands out as one of the most colorful appearances on the catwalk of Gala 2015. The paintings adorning the outfits are signed by artist Andreea Tivadar.
Innumerable collection, belonging to Alina Morar, takes inspiration from Romanian subcultures. Exploring a niche aesthetics and pushing good taste to the limit, Alina transforms “maneliada”(a journey through the world of manele music) in a very exciting fashion experience. This generates a series of cool outfits inspired by male tailoring, using classic fabrics redesigned (striped fabrics or Jaquards), equipped with opulent details and kitch touches.
Cycle in Style collection (by Andrea Szanto) deserves a special mention for the way the designer choses to rework sportswear fabrics specific to cycling and make some creative combinations with mesh, sequins or rigid bands. The lightweight jackets, the apron-skirts, the pants with bright accents on the pockets or sequins attached to the inside seams definitely have to be considered for a fashionable wardrobes.
Anca Zaharia’s NORMA/DEADAL collection is concerned about issues such as innovation, functionality, ergonomics, technology, future materials. She combines extremely elaborate masculine outfits (oversized jackets with details processed by laser cut techniques and digital print) with elastic therapeutic tapes - a styling idea that I liked a lot.
Loredana Ghetie talks about metrosexual narcissism making explicit references to urban society, contemporary glamor and its inherent superficiality. She used the concept of “Multiglitter Man“. The outfits, worn by female models for the show, are borderline kitsch, yet highly qualitative, wearable and cool.
For her Nouveau Riche collection, Inga Bragaru introduces expensive fabrics – leather, fur, velvet and sequins, in order to delineate a fabulous, snobbish and arrogant character. The final look brings a touch of theatricality, which is ultimately very attractive. The option for color blocks – from poison green, indigo and cobalt blue to orange, black and gold, with all those styling elements (long gloves and head bows), fill the picture perfectly.
Magdalena Butnariu has a longtime fascination for natural elements (if we remember the hairpieces. teeth and branches that she formerly used to accessorize her BA collection). For her MA collection entitled SPIRIT AMARA – “AN YE HARM NONE, DO WHAT YE WILL” she inserted plants into the structure of materials or placed them into glass bags that become portable terrariums.
Rites of passage, Andreea Castrase’s collection, drew everyone’s attention through the maturity of creative approach, the consistency of final look, sophisticated details, exceptional finishes. Beyond the elegant shapes, the intellectual and poetic undertones (which already enshrined Andreea as a young designer with many national and international awards under the belt), we have to note the remarkable details: laser cut laces, bands and buckles that accessorize dresses subtly remodeling their shapes.
Images sources: Francis Sandor (catwalk atmosphere Gala 2015) / Emil Costrut (catwalk images used for the cropped the details).
Now, when there’s no Margiela around (in terms of really experimental, subversive, avant garde fashion) hopefully we have Vetements.
Vetements is a young Paris based fashion label run by an international collective of seven designers trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Die Angewandte in Vienna and Studio Berçot in Paris. Their Fall 2015 collection was recently showed at Paris Fashion Week. The show, held in the basement of Paris’ famous gay club Le Depot displayed oversized jackets, asymmetric dresses, sporty harnesses and skin-tight snakeskin platforms. With a casting of real people everything looked bold, subtle, odd and really creative in terms of product design.
In French, “Vetements” literally means “clothes” – it’s simple. The design approach goes into the same spirit: it’s about producing beautiful clothes that are made to be worn. However, there’s a particular energy embedded in these deceptively simple outfits. Of course, the styling adds a particular flavour to the overall look, but even so we can feel there was a great concern in the making of the garment. Working on a piece of clothing, exploring its hidden details, subtly reconfiguring shapes and lines, taking risks – these preoccupations are extremely rare these days.
Vetements’ fashion esthetic, the way they play with proportions and volumes, the mix of raw with sophisticated details may seem margielesque, like their choice to remain invisible as creative individuals. Anyhow, there’s a new breath and many possibilities that can start from here, while being anonymous is an act of courage today more than ever. Focusing on well-done basic pieces above anything else, Vetements it’s not just a label but a genuine project by itself.
Vetements Fall 2015, catwalk images via style.com
Hood by Air Fall 2015/ backstage photos by Helga Taxler
I have already wrote about Hood by Air as one of the most promising young brands of Ready To Wear. Now that HBA showed their latest work at NYFW, I’m even more excited. It seams that HBA’s creative Shayne Oliver succeeded to take it to the next level. The brand grows up every season, and it grows nice! For Fall 2015 season, anyone can note a well-grounded approach to androgynous streetwear which is already a HBA signature feature. While some pieces look really avangarde, the clothes are still wearable and highly desirable, paired with a perfect styling. Take the large pleated trousers, the deconstructed fur coats or the cut-out pieces – everything in this collection looks absolutely amazing. Of course, a fashion nostalgic would say that some outfits recall former Margiela or Kawakubo styles. But that era is dead and Shayne Oliver knows well how to use all references and put them into a winning formula. At the end of the day, Hood by Air is a genuine streetwear label. It is about what real people would really enjoy to wear. The shoes are stunning again, especially the way they melt with the pants. The casting is essential in each Hood by Air show – this time again it gives a particular flavour to the clothes. With the aid of Amy Farid (hairstyling) and Inge Grognard (makeup), the beauty was impeccably solved too.
catwalk images via style.com
Watch the HBA fashion show video for Fall 2015 below:
Giovanni Anselmo – Invisible, 1971, video projections. Using a slide projector, the word is legible only at a certain point when intersecting the presence of the viewer. Thus the invisible becomes visible.
Maison Martin Margiela and their signature ‘invisible’ tag. The blank tag is attached to the garment using 4 white stitches visible from the outside.
What is Hood by Air?
Hood By Air is a New York based streetwear label created by Shayne Oliver and Raul Lopez in 2006. Inspired by hip-hop culture the line features edgy garments and graphic tees printed in bold colors, usually bearing the signature HBA logo. Started as menswear with a collection based on sweatshirts and T-shirts, Hood by Air gradually evolved to more complex constructions. The outfits tend to be rather unisex.
Key words: T-shirts, sweatshirts, logo, prints, Centaur boots, bold, denim, leather, genderless, powerwear.
While the classic HBA tees play a lot with graphics and logos (such as Paramount-inspired logo), more recent collections introduce daring cutouts, bold accessories, lace-up details and sophisticated layering. After Oliver Shayne was awarded with the LVMH Young Fashion Designers special prize there was a significant shift in label’s evolution, which obviously became more luxurious.
Hood By Air items can be purchased online (check VFiles), as well as from famous boutiques like Opening Ceremony and Colette.
Why is it so relevant?
Firstly, because it is an example of American design at its best! Hood by Air delivers extremely clean and wearable clothes, re-imagining Americana style and giving it a fresh allure. The collaboration with Italian footwear brand Forfex resulted in a line of amazing boots, another great addition to the HBA overall look. Although the clothes per se are neither artsy nor emotional, they have instead an experimental component and an evident sexual charge.
Then, because it succeeds to be avant-garde being in the same time ’normal’. Actually, Hood by Air is a smart hybrid between streetwear and high-end fashion, better said an avant-garde streetstyle. In the context of boredom and indifference which dominates fashion lately (see normcore), HBA delivers something new.
Finally, HBA already means much more than clothing. Exploring notions as body, identity, gender, Hood by Air aims to grow its influence as international lifestyle brand. Indeed, working across different creative mediums, they succeeded to build an entire world around these garments. And that’s precisely what makes the difference between ’another label’ and a powerful force in contemporary culture.
A prominent event in their work it’s the recent ‘HBA trilogy’ conceived for the S/S 2015 collection. Having the exploration of the male self – id, superego, ego – as the main theme, the collection has been exposed in three parts:
Part 1 (EGO), presented at NYFW introduced some cool kids wearing signature cut out pieces and amazing plexi choker necklaces; Part 2, (SUPEREGO), which took place in an abandoned office space in Paris focused mainly on ”refashioned versions of men’s tailoring, meant for a world where the codes transmitted by a traditional suit no longer exist“(Maya Singer); Part 3 (ID), back in New York at MoMA did not present a new collection, but a party performance and multimedia installation. Bringing together costumes and elements of the previous two collections, with the participation of artists as Mykki Blanco, Boychild, Venus X, Fatima Al Qadiri, Leilah Weinraub, SSION, Total Freedom, HBA’s PopRally event at MoMa delivered an unified view on brand philosophy.
Hood By Air – SS 2015, Part 1, NYFW / images via style.com
Hood By Air, SS 2015 – Part 2, Paris Fashion Week/ photo via mtv.com
Hood By Air – SS 2015, Part 3, MoMa , New York/ photo via i-d.vice.com
James Ostrer‘s photographic series Wotsit all About depicts monstrous creatures made out of sugar, sweets and foodstuffs, assembled in a way that recalls primitive art. Referring to contemporary addictions and our culture’s dietary concerns, the artist mocks his own weaknesses and guilty pleasures.
“I wanted to redefine the human species in modern tribes based on what they eat.”
Ostrer studied at the Royal College of Art, before becoming a set designer at the English National Ballet. The artist lives and works in London. His work talks about the body politics in the ever evolving analysis of the western body, sexuality, and society, functioning in the same time as “self-help therapy”.
The photographs from Wotsit all About series have been exposed at Gazelli Art House, London.